Marduk was a kindly god of Ancient Babylon. He is also known as the elder benevolent god of water and one of the beneficent gods of the Satanic Bible. The Swedish band, which took up his name, would later claim the name was chosen not out of mistake, but as a form of mockery. Norrköping’s Marduk was, in fact, initially in 1989 called God. It was formed by a former punk rocker called Håkanson and in short order would rise to the very top of the black/death metal heap. Morgan was in the punk band Moses, but most recently had been in Abhor. The group was officially called Marduk in September of 1990. The band recorded the Fuck Me Jesus demo (later re-issued through Osmose Productions with even more provocative artwork) in June of 1991 featuring Edge Of Sanity’s Andreas Dread. Bassist Rickard Kalm was part of the line-up, as well as Göthberg who would move to guitars three years down the road.
After one December of 1992 album on the Swedish No Fashion label, which was issued in America by Necropolis Records, the band switched over to the rising French black metal label Osmose Production. The Those Of The Unlight debut would be the subject of many reissues by the likes of Necropolis, Blooddawn, Black Lodge and Regain given the bankruptcy of No Fashion. The band’s debut for the new label was promoted through a split promotional tape with Brazil’s Mystifier. Andersson would depart (and later be called a wimp-out by Morgan) and be replaced by drummer Göthberg. The band toured with label-mates Immortal across Europe in 1994 as it sounds grew more brutal and its reputation larger. Legion was drafted on vocals at which time he quit Opthalamia. The band’s first live foray outside Sweden was at a Norwegian show in 1994. A January 1994 tour of Europe was cancelled. The group did play a one-off in Mexico City in 1995. The 1996 tour of Europe featured producer and Hypocrisy founder Peter Tägtgren. Live In Germania (initially due to be called The Black Years) was recorded with this line-up. During this period, Morgan proclaimed his admiration for his grandfather’s participation in Nazi endeavours in World War Two and allowed the release of old demo material, Here’s No Peace, with Nazi imagery. The same man would proclaim his support for the American invasion of Iraq years later. Nightwing focused on the story of Vlad and Vampirism. 1999 touring accompanied Cannibal Corpse, Defleshed and others. A US tour with Cannibal Corpse and Angelcorpse had fallen through. Marduk was the subject of controversy when promoters in several Baltic countries claimed the band to have ripped them off, having not performed despite paid advances. The band claimed its tour manager had deluded them and stolen the money. The Swedes would release a double live album this April. A 2002 tour with Amon Amarth was also cancelled. Amon Amarth toured on its own. Marduk, which had left Osmose in 2000 following the expiration of its contract, was seemingly back on the Osmose roster. Yet, the next album was not on Osmose.
Infernal Eternal commemorated the band’s tenth anniversary. Century Media would begin licensing the band’s products for America given the Swedes’ departure from Osmose Productions amidst displeasure with a lack of American progress and touring. The band toured the USA with Deicide, although subsequent US tours would run into difficulty given various members criminal records. Marduk asked drummer Fredrik Andersson to leave the fold and replaced him with Emil Dragutinovic. This after the band had difficulty obtaining US visas to tour there. World Funeral was initially called Funeral War. Regain Records preceded the release of this Marduk album by issuing a teaser LP called Hearse which was backed by a cover of Possessed's Phantasm. Legion and B.War next moved to California and formed a band called Rebelangels (later Elizium). Legion was replaced by Mortuus (previously Arioch). B.War was replaced by former guitarist Andersson. Drummer Emil Dragutinovic left in 2006. Cross Of Iron, later called Rom 5:12, was his last record. Spring 2009 shows in the USA were again a cause for disappointment when the band only managed to join Cephalic Carnage, Withered and others late. Lars Broddesson (Absurdeity and Excessum) drummed on Wormwood. Sweden's Witchery released a new album, Witchkrieg, in July of 2010 through Century Media Records, which featured the voice of new vocalist, Legion of Marduk fame. Marduk completed its Asian Black Death Redemption tour in December of 2010. The band travelled to China, Singapore and Indonesia in December. Marduk announced a North American Tour 2011 with Aura Noir, Black Anvil, Panzerfaust and Hod. The shows hit Canada and the USA at the end of May. The band's twentieth anniversary was to also be commemorated by Regain records through several package releases. Marduk completed recording three new songs for an EP to kick off 2011. Dubbed Iron Dawn, the EP was set for release through Regain Records on May 27th at the Maryland Deathfest where the band would make an appearance. The EP was also available at the six additional North American shows to follow with a worldwide street date of May 30th. Marduk and Ragnarok, among others, left Regain Records in late 2011. The label was having financial difficulties. Marduk was part of the Hatefest tour 2011 with Dawn Of Disease, Triptykon and more. Century Media Records signed Marduk and the band's record label, Blooddawn Productions, to a licensing deal beginning late 2011. Marduk had a new album in 2012 called Serpent Sermon through Blooddawn/Century Media. Marduk would release its next studio album, Serpent Sermon through Blooddawn Productions/Century Media in May, 2012. Marduk and 1349 were jointly touring in the summer of 2012. Marduk’s Serpent Sermon was number 44 in the US Billboard Heatseekers chart. Due to problems with a nerve in his spine, drummer Lars Broddsson would not join the band on its tour with Grave. Filling in for him would be Fredrik Widigs of Demonical repute. Marduk was at Endarker Studio in Norrköping, Sweden to record a new album, called Frontschwein. It was due in January 2015. April 2015 saw the return of Europe's HateFest Tour. The bill would be headlined by Six Feet Under and included Marduk, Vader and Hate! Releasing a new album, called Advent of The Human God, this past March through Season of Mist, Canadian death metal band Necronomicon, Marduk, label-mates Rotting Christ and a Dutch pop trio toured the US in 2016. The bill was also booked for the first annual New Orleans Metal Festival. A show at the Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland, California, USA was cancelled after police could not guarantee its security. Marduk had always displayed NAZI imagery and been pro-war. Swedish musician Tony Särkkä (a.k.a It) of Abruptum, Marduk and more died at the age of 45. The band released a new album, called Viktoria, through Century Media on June 22nd.
The band often issues EPs featuring cover songs. Bands covered include Piledriver, Possessed, Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory. Marduk has issued the 2004 DVD Funeral Marches And Warsongs, 2005’s Blackcrowned and 2006’s Blood Puke Salvation.
MARDUK - LIVE IN GERMANIA - OSMOSE
I was aware of Marduk leader Hakansson's love for Germany ever since he expressed his pride in his Nazi grandfather in a German fanzine.
Initially destined to be called The Black Years, the 12-song live recording showcases the entire Marduk career and as such is a useful representation of the band. The sound is good and the band plays true to the originals. They throw in a good Destruction workout, even if covers are a dime a dozen these days. Unfortunately though, black metal Is little different from any other musical genre. In the visual age where the video format is both cheap and accessible, live albums are something of an anachronism. There is little value in hearing the band live when you can hear and see the band live. Making matters worse is the virtual absence of any introductions to the songs. Do not get me wrong. My stomach churns as much as the next person at the sound of cliche arena rock chants and sing-alongs, but we could have at least been treated to a short introduction to the songs like the story behind a song, for example. That would have validated a live album to a certain extent. As it stands Live In Germania is a viciously competent true black metal live recording within the limitations of the format. - Ali "The Metallian"
MARDUK - LA GRANDE DANSE MACABRE - REGAIN/CENTURY MEDIA
Marduk's always been a matter of irony in these towers. Named after a 'good' god, the Swedes follow their catchy death metal offerings with all out evil black metal attacks. The band then creates controversy by stating implicit support for Hitler's Third Reich only to go on to bigger and better success plateaus. It seems as if Marduk can do no wrong. Consensus being that as long as the band is delivering such blue blood cacophony, the metal world will forgive any and all side shows. Which brings us to the band's first North American release which ironically comes on the heels of the band's departure from longtime label Osmose Productions. La Grande Danse Macabre fulfills the band's intention to slow down a notch and pull back from the unholy assault of an album like Panzer Division Marduk and veer back more towards Those of the Unlight and the catchier early 90's work. As such Marduk present an album featuring an album of mid-paced death, hyper-speed black and even a semi-doom effort. Overall though while not the band's best release, this dance is 666 times more genuine and talented than that accorded hyped bands like Emperor, CoF et al and worth the money the label wants from you for this. - Ali "The Metallian"
MARDUK - WORLD FUNERAL - REGAIN/THE END
When Marduk launches into one of its near-incessant fast songs - that's faaaaast to the laymen out there - absolutely nothing can touch the Swedes. World Funeral is more than a mere title. It is a mission statement which backs up its statement with music befitting any sordid name it wishes to grant its albums. Song after song on World Funeral detonates around the listener. Exemplary instances are the ultra-sonic might of With Satan And Victorious Weapons and Cloven Hoof. Even the weaker songs, which typically are the slower ones, are dressed with such wonderful lyrics that one easily lets the song's comparative weakness become absorbed by the lyrical disposition. There certainly are a couple of English grammar and spelling faux pas scattered throughout the lyric sheet, but how can one beat lines like 'Your corpse is as beautiful/As the dawn when it comes with first sunray - But it was your peeled bleached bones/that really blew my mind?' A new element not hitherto immediately recognizable in Marduk is the wonderfully distorted bass which adds that much more to the band's assault. Furthermore, the fast, raging solos on songs like the title track or the aforementioned With Satan And Victorious Weapons shred with supreme destructive majesty. Night Of The Long Knives is an impressive song showcasing the band's compositional aptitude. Even new drummer Emil Dragutinovic must be possessed by Satan to pummel his kit with such reckless abandon. The man makes minced meat out of drum machines everywhere.
Marduk's only competition is itself. This is a contest the band wins every time by becoming faster, heavier, tighter and slicker year after year. - Ali "The Metallian"
MARDUK - PLAGUE ANGEL - CANDLELIGHT
The time has come for a new Marduk opus and with 2005's release being dubbed Plague Angel one knows that the Swedish war mongers have lost none of their intensity. Indeed, the album follows an introduction with blasting power and it quickly becomes obvious that the addition of two new members into the ranks has not restrained the coven's propensity to kick the listener's head off his shoulders. Slower moments do show up from time to time in order for the listener to catch his mortal breath, but Plague Angel is by and large a speed devotee's wet dream. The drums sing the praises of pestilent velocity, the guitar roar the roar of a jet engine to hell, the bass sounds distorted and angry and the vocals of newcomer Mortuus, while perhaps not deep enough, are depraved and offensive. Marduk, by now, is a well-oiled death machine and the standard-bearer for Swedish supremacy. - Ali "The Metallian"
MARDUK - WARSCHAU - REGAIN
Not news: in the realm of black death metal Sweden’s Marduk is unmatched in terms of sheer face ripping madness. What is more interesting is how the Swedes, lead by guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson, has long reversed the time-honoured disgraceful behaviour whereby bands wimps out one or two albums into their respective careers. Warschau - itself a song on 2004’s Plague Angel album - marks the band’s fifteenth year of existence and is as ferocious and maniacal as ever.
This live set is also a restoration of belief in the band’s on-stage capabilities for me personally after being disappointed by what seemed a routine or by-the-numbers performance of the band’s older line-up on the Funeral Marches And Warsongs DVD a year earlier. Warschau takes advantage of the location in Warsaw, Poland and mixes the title with design and graphics relating to the city’s war history and Marduk’s addiction to destruction and panzers. How Morgan’s stated affinity with Nazism plays into this or the thinking of a Polish audience is interestingly curious.
Warschau introduces a couple of new members like singer Mortuus as up to the band’s standards and delivers its message like a round of tank fire. The emphasis is on the band’s more recent compositions, but older cuts like Panzer Division Marduk and The Black... are here too as is an uncanny strong sound for a live recording. - Ali “The Metallian”
MARDUK - ROM 5:12 - REGAIN
Having first released an album over 15 years ago it would be perfectly natural to expect any band to have gone jumped to the keyboard atmospheric route years ago. Marduk is one of the few exceptions. The Levelling Dust opens up Rom 5:12 and fills the ears with riffs, but the real speed comes in the next song, Cold Mouth Prayer. Here one is crushed under the full power of Marduk. Imago Mortis is an eight-minute long song that is surprisingly tame early on and spends long periods on the side of melody and heaviness rather than speed. Through The Belly Of Damnation doesn’t waste any time undoing the lack of speed of what preceded it. It is a truly blasting and crushing four minutes and with lyrics like “And the rhythm of war...shall enchant us all...and battalions of plague...to guard every gate” it is easy to know what it is about. 1651 is a haunting follow-up that firmly places the listener in a war and apocalypse setting. Limbs Of Worship is straight back to the ultra high speed. Accuser/Opposer is another eight minute plus song and like TTBOD moves very much in a slow deliberate pace but is lyrically very true to Marduk. It also features guest vocals by Primordial's Alan Averill. Vanity Of Vanities follows the now obvious pattern and destroys all in its wake, perhaps even more than others. Womb Of Perishableness (?) is one more heavier, longer song and is perhaps Marduk’s version of God Of Emptiness. Voices From Avignon closes Rom 5:12 in the pure traditional high-speed black metal sense. Rom 5:12 reads “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned” and to end this review with a cliché statement it would be a sin if Marduk is not in every best of metal collection. - Anna Tergel
MARDUK - PANZER DIVISION MARDUK - REGAIN
One in the series of Marduk re-releases by Regain records, this also features new artwork, albeit one that is similar to the original, two bonus tracks in Deathride and Todeskessel Kurland and a 'fan made' video for the title track that is on par or even superior to anything most bands and labels come up with themselves these days. The album itself had been widely reviewed during its original release and has the distinction of being called a hallmark for the all-out, no-breaks speed it features. Indeed as the title track opens the proceedings it is very clear where this is going but this is Marduk and such extremes are expected. The concept is all out war and the intro to the opener presents the concept briefly but clearly as do the opening lyrics “Fearsome and grim and mighty...Panzer division Marduk rolls over enemy land...Striking hard and fast against your lines...We blow your fortress into sand.” Baptism By Fire starts with more war sounds, this time of bombs dropping, then the music almost immediately jumps back to the hyper speed. Christraping Black Metal features slightly more distinguishable riffs ala the band’s earliest releases. Scorched Earth doesn’t let up and continues the war theme. Beast Of Prey again starts off with war sounds and a guitar solo amidst the ultra speed riffs. Blooddawn doesn’t let up either, but features a bit more of the varied and distinguishable riffs that are perhaps reminiscent of the likes of Dissection. 502 starts off with the orders “Panzers march” and Fistfucking God’s Planet is sort of like final marching orders as it declares “Dethrone the son...The crucified one” and is a mix of the speed with a few of the breaks that bring the riffing to the fore. The two aforementioned bonus tracks do not let up much either but the production quality is slightly different and the guitar sound somewhat thicker. All in all Panzer Division Marduk is as unrelenting as it gets. - Anna Tergel
MARDUK - GERMANIA (CD+DVD) - REGAIN
Regain has re-released this 1997 live album and added new art work and a DVD featuring the band’s first show out side of Sweden. That 1994 show in Oslo features six songs played on the smallest stage possible and are seen via a single camera and features sound that is perhaps better than expected considering the setting of the recording. The songs are obviously early ones and are Burn My Coffin, A Sculpture Of The Night, Wolves, The Black, On Darkened Wings, and Sulphur Souls. The guys barely have room to bang their heads, but that is or at least was the nature of underground metal. The Live In Germania CD itself features 12 songs ranging from The Black, On Darkened Wings to material from 1996’s Heaven Shall Burn like Beyond The Grace Of God, Legion, Darkness It Shall Be, Infernal Eternal and Dracul Va Domni and a cover version in Destruction’s Total Desaster. It is difficult to capture this much brutality and chaos and transmit it via a live release and perhaps this is one more case where visuals and the live experience are also very important but the sound and production here are better than they can be and leave no doubt as to what Marduk is about. - Anna Tergel
MARDUK - NIGHTWING - REGAIN RECORDS
Originally released in 1997 this incarnation of Nightwing is another in the Regain Records series of Marduk re-releases. To add something when putting out a not so old or ancient album they have gone the usual route of having new and different artwork, in this case a gray and black depiction of the Nazarene, and a bonus DVD. Starting off with the DVD. It is footage from an April ’98 show in Rotterdam where a single camera, with the inevitable poor sound quality, shows the band, with Legion as the then vocalist, going through eight songs. The songs are Of Hell’s Fire, Bloodtide (XXX), Slay The Nazarene, The Black..., Still Fucking Dead, Sulphur Souls, Dreams Of Blood And Iron and Beyond The Grace Of God and considering the date of the show it is not surprising that four of the eight are from the Nightwing album itself. Nightwing, the album, is pure Marduk as heard and also seen countless times. This is nothing but all out speed and mayhem, without pause. The emphasis on speed did and will still disappoint most seeking progression and growth but there is no denying the crushing force that Marduk became known for from early on. The only moment of any reprieve can be heard on Dreams Of Blood And Iron but the heaviness is ratcheted up and compensates well for anything lacking. - Anna Tergel
MARDUK - OBEDIENCE - REGAIN RECORDS
Having parted ways with Osmose this 1999 EP was the first of the Marduk releases on Blooddawn. Morgan Hakansson and co. had surely decided to come up with something quickly and Obedience was the result. Embracing the bondage and S&M theme was another of the decisions taken as is clear by the cover art and songs themselves. This Regain Records re-release features a new, and yet again mainly gray and black, artwork in keeping with the original’s bondage theme. Funeral Bitch, the second song after the opening title track, sees a bit of experimentation in the middle and the pace is just slightly off overall. The original release included a cover of Celtic Frost’s Into The Crypt Of Ray, however for this version Regain have also included the covers for Paint It Black (Rolling Stones) and Earth A.D. (Misfits), both of which are taken from the Blackcrowned box set originally released in 2002. - Anna Tergel